Seven Years

This morning, Kate woke up and said, “Mom, it’s the 13th and I’m sad.” This is the first time she’s acknowledged the anniversary of the car accident. This is good progress for Kate as she continues to grow in grief.

Anne before the accident

Anne after the accident

As Kate was crying, Canon offered these words of comfort…

When blacksmiths crafted swords thousands of years ago, when the sword was first made, the metal was very brittle. The blacksmith would dip the sword in fire and then in cold water over and over again until the metal was strong. It says in the Bible that God is with us in the fire. This is your fire, Kate. God is with you and he will use it to make you stronger.

God is with us in the fire. He is sovereign and good! We are thankful for God’s faithfulness to Anne and our family over the last seven years. We look forward to seeing how God’s goodness is revealed over the next seven years!

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

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Kate’s grief

Kate. She was only three when the accident happened. And she’s had tearful moments, but tonight – I think she faced the truth.

The truth that her sister will always be different, and the truth that her life changed dramatically on that sunny day in April. She misses her sister.

As she was crying – deep, guttural, painful sobs – I knew her pain. The sadness is so heavy you feel like you can’t breathe. My sweet Kate.

And then there’s Canon – who bravely walked through grief at the ripe, old age of seven. I listened as he quoted Scripture to Kate…

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7).

And then he explained, “Kate, God gives us hard things in life because he loves us and he wants us to be more like Him. It’s just like a spanking – it hurts, but it makes us better people.”

Sweet AnneAnd Kate cried and held the old picture of Anne. The one where she’s smiling with her whole mouth and her eyes are bright and full. And Kate cried and cried. And she went up to lay next to Anne and Kate cried and cried some more. And then I took Kate and put her in her bed. The bed next to Anne’s. And I laid down with her – and heard her sobs turn to whimpers and slowly her breathing calmed – and she was asleep. Sweet sleep. Sweet Kate. Heavy grief.

Anne Kate high quality

Anne & Kate then (ages 5&3)

Anne & Kate now (ages 8 & 6)

Anne & Kate now (ages 8 & 6)

Sister love

Sister love

Lost December

I’m just tired of being sad. This December, I sorta went into an apathetic shell. Thinking back, I think I was just protecting myself from the grief that comes around the holidays. But that shell just got sandblasted. I just need to learn that it is okay to be sad during December.

In 30 short minutes, a new year will be here, and I feel a bit sad. But I’ll say that sadness is a notch better than apathetic, because at least I’m feeling something :-)

But don’t worry. God is here. He always is.

May Anne continue to make progress in 2013! And here is my list of “gratefuls” for 2012.

Key Lime Pie
Good neighbors
Anne’s crooked smile
Eric’s job
Canon’s enthusiasm
Special time with Kate
Therasuit Therapy
Erin and Stacy at church
French Horns… (I love the melancholy tone of a french horn)
Late night movie watching with Eric
My Wednesday bible study group
Mrs. Bush (Anne’s para-pro)
my new iPhone

and finally… the story of Joseph (from the Bible).

God is good. Happy New Year.

High Five!

Anne’s been struggling lately with feeling… in her words, “useless.”

She sees her brother and sister work together to clean up after dinner and she says, “I’m not a help. I’m useless.”

She compares herself to her peers and says, “I’m not good at anything. I’m useless.”

As you can imagine, Eric and I immediately tell her otherwise and we list all the ways she’s valuable. And we’ve noticed a trend. Her worth is in bringing others joy. She’s good at encouraging others, connecting with others, making others laugh.

A great example happened in church this morning… For the first time since the accident, Anne was able to participate in children’s choir. The children helped lead worship this morning, and after they finished singing their few songs, Anne (who was especially proud of herself) reached her hand out to her teacher and said loudly (so that everyone in the congregation could hear), “High Five!”

Do you know how many people commented to me about Anne’s “High Five” after church? Well… several. She’s a delight to others. And if you have a chance to tell her yourself – be sure to encourage her that she is not useless. She is a joy! At least we think so :)

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Jo Brooks Photography

Photo courtesy of Bobbi Jo Brooks Photography

Lighthearted Luxuries

A few days ago, I was waiting in the front lobby of Nickajack Elementary to pick up Anne from school. Anne’s para-pro wheeled Anne out to meet me, and she was beaming. Anne’s para-pro has a hard job. She is with Anne all day to help her with all of her school tasks… everything from writing to bath-rooming.

“You look so happy today,” I said to her.

“I am! Anne had a great day. She did such good work today. It was a potato chip day!”

Now let me pause to explain… Potato chips are Anne’s absolute favorite food. She will do almost anything for a potato chip. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a video from earlier this summer to prove it :-)

But back to my conversation with Anne’s para-pro…

She continued, “I am so proud of Anne. And I am so excited!

Wow. There are several wonderful points I could make from this interchange… The first is that Anne’s para-pro is an answer to prayer. She feels called to work with special needs kids. She’s going back to school late in her life to get a degree in special education. She even works with special needs kids at her church. She’s older and wiser. She observes and is patient. She is a God-send.

But the second thought I walked away with was how foreign her lighthearted spirit was to me. I don’t experience lightheartedness very often since the accident. Our life is characterized by such hard physical care for Anne… most of the time, our lives seem heavy.

So I consider lightheartedness a luxury. And God gave me this luxury today :)

Canon got braces today, and I decided he didn’t need to go to school after such an ordeal. So, I brought Canon and Kate along with me to ride their bikes while I ran with some friends at the River. We veered off the wide, worn path to explore the narrow, rooty trails. Kate and Canon looked like Mountain Bike experts as they navigated the roots and rocks. And I was in heaven. I love trails. Love. them!

After our run, we decided (spontaneously) to pick up Anne early from school and then we all went out for milk-shakes. (A Milk shake for lunch makes tons of sense when your teeth are hurting from new braces.) We were all in the car, drinking our milkshakes and singing along to the radio when it hit me. I feel lighthearted.

I think God-given luxuries are the best. Don’t you?

3 Kids = 3 Schools

That’s right. All three kids are going to different schools.

I felt like a pro this morning, getting all three kids up and ready and out the door. Not so last year. Last year I was a mess!

God has been so faithful to provide the perfect school situation for each of my kids.

  • Canon enters the 4th grade at ACCA, an excellent private christian school. We discovered last spring that only one boy was returning to his class. I began praying for a new family with a 4th grade boy to come to ACCA. God answered! Joshua is the newest member of the 4th grade at ACCA. He is the oldest of three children. Up until now, he was home schooled, but because of a tragedy in his family – concerning his little sister – his mother decided to put him in private school. Does that sound familiar? Aside from the type of tragedy, Joshua and Canon have much in common. God has provided for Canon (and for Joshua).
  • Anne enters the 1st grade at Nickajack, an excellent public school in our area. I found out last spring that all of Anne’s therapists and para-pro’s would not be returning this year. So we prayed, specifically for Anne’s physical therapist and her new para-pro. I found out this morning that Anne’s new school PT worked with her in the Children’s Day Rehab Program 2 years ago. How amazing is that?? God takes care of Anne.
  • And Kate. Well, I’m homeschooling Kate. My little girl suffered from not having enough time with mommy last year. So now we have hours of uninterrupted time together. Our first morning has already been profoundly good. I pray that this year lays a foundation of godly character in her life.

So that’s our school year for 12-13. It promises to be a good, good year.

The view from my front porch

Do you see that house across the street? Our good friends live there. They have three children. The second-born is Canon’s close friend, Joel. And the youngest is Natalie, who is only 6 weeks younger than Kate. The blue car in the cul-de-sac belongs to my mother. She lives in the basement of that house, in a two-bedroom apartment that our friends have rented out for years. We have much-needed support directly across the street.

Last week, I saw Canon, Joel and his older brother, Parker, race across the cul-de-sac on their scooters, hop up on the curb, run and then collapse in the green grass. The three of them wrestled a bit and then just relaxed. I can only imagine what they talked about as they lay in the soft grass. I thought of how much those boys have shared together. We stayed with this family after the accident. They let Joel stay home from school to be with Canon when he was released from the hospital. I remember the first time the family got to see Anne. There were strange tubes coming out of Anne’s nose and head. Her hair was a matted mess. But Canon turned to Joel and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” Joel just nodded. He knew better than to argue.

Every afternoon Canon and Kate get to play – HARD – and live life at their pace with great friends. This allows Anne to stay inside (which she’s always preferred) and live life at her slower pace. And because Canon and Kate have such freedom, they are more inclined to slow down and sit with Anne. It’s a good balance, and a good life for Canon and Kate. And it makes me very thankful!

A day in the life (cont.)

Well… after wrestling with Canon & Kate for an hour, getting dinner on the table and sitting with Anne for the last hour – just talking. I’m tired. Which is the way it usually goes in the evenings…

Thankfully, Eric puts the kids to bed around 7pm so I can decompress for a bit before we hit the hay at the ghastly hour of… 9pm.  Seven is almost here… Ahhhhhhhh.

All in all… It has been a really good day!

A day in the life

Canon and Kate started back to school yesterday, but Anne’s school doesn’t start until next week – which leaves just me and Anne together all week. I thought it might be fun to document what a day with Anne is like :-) So here goes…

6:05am – alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button (twice).

6:25am – get up, get ready – pack Canon and Kate’s lunches and make their breakfast. I’m spoiling them this week with fresh pancakes hot off the griddle. They better not get used to it.

7:00am – pry Kate out of bed – argue about tights vs. socks – force her to brush her hair and help Canon change the turtle’s water (we are turtle-sitting for a friend …that’s another story for another day).

7:15am – get Anne up, change her pull-up and carry her downstairs to the van while herding Canon and Kate in that direction…

7:45am – drop Canon and Kate off. Anne tries to talk to the guy helping with carpool… “How are you? You sure are doing a great job…” But he doesn’t notice. sigh.

8:05am – arrive home and make breakfast for Anne. She wants sausage and waffles – with syrup. It’s bath day so I let her have the syrup – but I can’t sit with her while she eats – she makes too big of a mess – so I sit at the computer and eat my oatmeal while checking my email.

8:30am – wipe the syrup off of Anne’s face, hands, clothes & table – And I let her watch Curious George while I decompress for 30 minutes.

9:00am – It’s poopy time. I give Anne one glycerin suppository and carry her to the potty. We sing songs and play pretend games while she works to pass her bowel movement. We sing the “Days of the Week Song” and I’m shocked that she remembers that it’s Wednesday. Every day we go over “yesterday, today and tomorrow” and talk about the unique aspects of each day. She has a hard time with time concepts – that’s typical for frontal lobe brain damage – but today… she remembered! Yeah!

She thinks she needs another suppository to pass more – so I give her one more suppository and sure enough – she had to go more. After 30 minutes… she’s done. That’s actually pretty quick. (Note… glycerin suppositories have zero medication – they simply act as a physical stimulant… Anne still needs a little bit of help to get things started)

9:30am – clean up kitchen from breakfast and put a roast in the crock pot while Anne plays on her ipad.  I had to borrow  ingredients from my mom – who has her own apartment in our basement. She’s still asleep, so I have to be super quiet – I’ll tell her I stole vinegar worchestershire sauce later – when I give her a birthday card. She’s 73 today… she can sleep as long as she likes! By this time, Anne’s already had two seizures. The last one was a bad one – which means she comes out of this trance-like state extremely agitated. Much crying and slapping and biting. Ugh. It’s bath time…

10:00am – Let Anne play in the bathtub while I clean the bathroom and straighten the kids’ rooms. I check on the turtle – who has gone poopy in her fresh water. Typical. Next up… I have to wash Anne’s hair – which is my least favorite thing to do – except for maybe brushing her hair. Her head was hyper-sensitive before the accident – and unbelievably – it’s even more sensitive now. She screams and thrashes the whole time – I try to restrain her so at least something stays dry in the bathroom – but by the end… I’m soaking wet and we’re both upset. And then I have to brush her hair – it’s easier to do when it’s wet – but she still hates it. hates. it. Again, I have to hold her right hand as she tries to pull the brush from me. But she’s left with beautiful, tangle free hair – and I’m left needing a glass of wine – too bad I don’t like wine ;-)

11:00am – This is our special time. I read to her, and then we review her sight words. Then, I make sentences with her sight words and she practices tracking the words left to right. It’s hard for her to see the words on the far left… so we practice as she points to each word as she says it. This is hard for Anne. So I reward her by letting her lie down on her tummy and I rub and stretch out her legs and feet. She gets sleepy, so I lie down with her and we’re both asleep – and bam – we wake up and it’s after 12pm. Anne has an OT appointment at 1pm, so we start scrambling :-)

12:15pm – I change Anne’s pull-up and put on her braces. I don’t have time to fix her lunch, so we head to Wendy’s. She eats better in the car anyway. I don’t know why.

1pm – OT – and 45 minutes of freedom for me. I run to publix to grab a card for my mom + extras of all the ingredients I had to borrow from her this morning. I get back to the OT office to find that Anne has worked a puzzle she has struggled with in the past – but this time she did it easily. Progress. We like it!

2pm – I have 45 minutes until I have to pick up Canon and Kate – so Anne and I run a few errands. Anne talks to everyone she sees. She’s always so sweet to strangers. She forces me out of my introverted shell… and then we head to school. In the carpool line, Canon’s teacher asks to speak to me. Great – this is either really good or really bad – thankfully, it’s really good. In bible, his class is discussing Jesus’ parables, so after talking through the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), Canon’s teacher asks the class –  how would you classify the soil of your own heart? rocky, thorny, good? Canon’s answer: I hope my heart is good soil… but I’m not sure. His innocent humility touched his teacher, and she took the time to share with me. You gotta love that.

3:25pm – We all get home and give Me-Ma her birthday card (along with more Worcestershire sauce and Apple Cider Vinegar) and promise to take her out for a good meal this weekend. Anne always spends an hour with Me-Ma in the afternoons, so I can spend time with Canon and Kate and get dinner started. But today.. I have a meal in the crock-pot, so I’m writing this blog post – which has turned out to be really long!

It’s time for me to play with Kate. I’ll finish out the day with an evening post…

Canon-isms

We just received an interesting Christmas card from some family friends. They put a different spin on their “Christmas letter” by including funny quotes from their kids which they’ve collected throughout the year. One of the kids is a friend of Canon’s, so I let him read his quotes.  After reading, Canon says, “That doesn’t sound like Jake…  I would never say silly stuff like that.”

Really, Canon? I’ve decided to record Canon’s “silly sayings” not over the next year – just over the next hour. We’ll see what he says then ;-) So here we go…

You don’t need to mop the floor. The only things you need are God, food and a bathroom… and a bed to sleep in. Nah. You can just sleep on the ground.

Mommy, if you ever become an opera singer, my ears will shrivel up in disgust.

I’m not rotten… I’m incredibly rotten.

I have the hicca-ma-muppers.

Can I have another biscuit? (No, Canon) Okay, then can I put this biscuit in my mouth and send it through my digestive system?

I’m going to kick you out. Let me go get my steel-toed boot. (don’t worry…. he doesn’t really have a steel-toed boot!)

(While wrestling with Kate…) My glasses just made an ominous cracking sound.

I say a regular sentence, and people literally start rolling on the floor laughing.

That was all just from tonight. I can’t imagine what a whole year’s worth of quotes would contain …and I don’t think I want to find out ;-)